HOW ACUPUNCTURE TREATS MUSCLE TENSION
Muscle tightness is something of a vicious cycle. It both causes pain on its own, and further results in other parts of the body tensing up in anticipation of that pain. Many patients find acupuncture helpful for both decreasing pain and relaxing the body overall.
Acupuncturists gently insert needles both at the place of stiffness, and at distant parts of the body that control different pathways to healing — such as to the glandular system.
Release of Healing Compounds
By relieving natural painkillers in the body, acupuncture needles help short-circuit the loop of pain, and stiffness from anticipating pain:
Endorphin release. These mood-boosting and pain-suppressing opioid neuropeptides are released by your nervous system by stimulation such as exercise and acupuncture therapy. You will experience pain relief and easing of muscle tension in the area most directly related to your pain. Just as importantly, the areas that were “taking up” the slack by working harder to support the original source of stiffness will also be relaxed.
Neurohormone production. Substances like dopamine are released by your body’s glandular system through strategic placement of acupuncture needles. The needles stimulate the glands so that their secretion is regulated in a more pain-suppressing manner. Dopamine also plays a role in relieving muscular and emotional tension, further enhancing the effects of the acupuncture treatment.
Relieving Muscle Adhesion
Over time, some people experience a building up of scar tissue on the connective tissue joining nerves and muscles. These adhesions often cause a general stiffening up of the affected muscle groups, because they become fused to one another. (In addition, other muscle groups that rush in to support the failing ones also become overworked.)
A skillful acupuncturist will find these adhesions if after treatment some muscles are relaxing and others aren’t — possibly signifying adhesions on the connective tissue. Applying needles directly to that area helps dissolve these buildups by improving blood circulation and healing endorphins.